Sep 6, 2011

MAKE THIS HAPPEN: Eddie Murphy, Oscar Host?

UPDATED: This is happening.  Let's hope it works out for the best.

Later today, a meeting will take place between the powers that be at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences and Brett Ratner, mediocre film director and the producer of the upcoming Oscar telecast.  The subject?  Who should take over hosting duties after last year's...uneven performance by Anne Hathaway and James Franco.  According to Deadline Ratner will be submitting a single name for consideration:

Eddie Murphy.

There are plenty of business savvy reasons for Murphy to jump at the chance, notably the fact that he's got a few movies hitting theaters in close proximity to Oscar night, including the Ratner-directed Tower Heist with Ben Stiller.  (Yay for shameless self promotion!)  But here's a better reason:

I want to love Eddie Murphy again.

Murphy is indisputably one of the funniest men alive, but you'd never know it from looking at his recent filmography.  The man has been mired in a swamp of unfunny for decades now; he hasn't made a comedy worth watching since the '90s (Bowfinger) and his last really great comedy was in the '80s. (Coming To America.)  Sidenote: I skipped over The Nutty Professor on purpose, as it really was the beginning of the end for Murphy, heralding an era of fat suits and talking animals.  His work in Dreamgirls drew a lot of praise and for a brief moment it looked as if we were on the verge of a new chapter in Murphy's career.  But the moment came and went and was replaced by Norbit and Meet Dave.

The advanced word is fairly positive on Tower Heist, (which, despite being originally pitched as "a black Ocean's 11," co-stars Stiller, Matthew Broderick and Alan Alda, three of the whitest white guys alive) but a high-profile, high-prestige gig like hosting the Oscars would really give Murphy the chance to shine once more.  More importantly, we'd actually get to see EDDIE MURPHY being funny, not some insane, high-concept character buried in latex.  It would serve to remind people just how likable and charming he can really be, and anything that has the chance to pull Murphy out of this fog-bank of the middling is a worthy endeavor.

When I was a kid, I thought that Chevy Chase was the very definition of boring, middle of the road, unfunny comedy, because everything he starred in at the time was a dreadful family-friendly movie like Man Of The House or Cops And Robbersons.  It wasn't until later that I discovered Caddyshack, Fletch, or his great work in the first season of Saturday Night Live and I realized the comedy god that Chase once was.  Interestingly, his SNL replacement, Bill Murray, went through a similar dark period.  Fortunately for the world, both have come through to the other side and are regularly flexing their incredible comedy chops once again.  Right now there's an entire generation who only know Murphy from Dr. Doolittle and Daddy Daycare, who have yet to experience Beverly Hills Cop, 48 Hours or his own brilliant SNL work, not to mention the devastating one-two punch of Raw and Delirious.  Hopefully we'll all get lucky and this year's Oscars will bring back the wickedly funny Eddie Murphy that I know is still in there somewhere.

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